How a worldwide sand shortage could impact the design world

Posted In News, Sand Mining

Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care


Millions of acres of rainforests are destroyed every year. The ice caps are melting. Experts predict the world’s supply of clean water will come under serious threat in the future. But for all of our self-inflicted natural resource problems, at least we have an inexhaustible supply of sand to count on, right? It turns out the real answer to that question isn’t so simple.

Later this month, Dutch Design Week will host a symposium entitled “The Abundance and Scarcity of Sand,” which is “focused on the critical discussion of sand as one of the most quickly disappearing natural resources in the world.” Notable speakers include Michael Welland, a geologist and author whose book, Sand, highlights the unseen role of this resource in our ecosystems, as well as Denis Delestrac, whose 2013 documentary, Sand Wars, showcased the lengths that contractors and smugglers alike will go to hoard and sell a commodity second only to freshwater, in terms of consumption.

It might seem odd for a design symposium to take sand so seriously, but the looming crisis could seriously threaten the supply of essential building materials like glass and concrete.

Between hard-to-enforce regulations, a growing number of dams that restrict sand movement, and a desire for short-term profits, sand is a far more finite commodity than most of us likely assume…

Read Full Article; Architectural Digest (10-11-2017)

“The Abundance and Scarcity of Sand,” Dutch Design Week: October 21-19, 2017

The world hungers for sand; Deutschland DE (09-26-2017)

A looming tragedy of the sand commons, Science (09-08-2017)
Because of the difficulty in regulating their consumption, common-pool resources are prone to tragedies of the commons as people may selfishly extract them without considering long-term consequences, eventually leading to overexploitation or degradation. Even when sand mining is regulated, it is often subject to rampant illegal extraction and trade…

The Conservation Crisis No One Is Talking About, By John R. Platt, TakePart (09-21-2016)
Beaches around the world are disappearing. No, the cause isn’t sea-level rise, at least not this time. It’s a little-known but enormous industry called sand mining, which every year sucks up billions of tons of sand from beaches, ocean floors, and rivers to make everything from concrete to microchips to toothpaste…

Sand Is in Such High Demand, People Are Stealing Tons of It, By Dave Roos; HowStuffWorks (03-06-2017)
As strange as it may sound, sand is one of the world’s hottest commodities. The global construction boom has created an insatiable appetite for sand, the chief ingredient for making concrete. The problem is that sand isn’t as abundant as it used to be. And when high demand and high value meets scarcity, you open the doors to smuggling…

The Economist explains: Why there is a shortage of sand; The Economist (04-24-2017)
It may be plentiful, but so is the demand for it…

Sand, Rarer Than One Thinks: A UNEP report (GEA-March 2014)
Despite the colossal quantities of sand and gravel being used, our increasing dependence on them and the significant impact that their extraction has on the environment, this issue has been mostly ignored by policy makers and remains largely unknown by the general public.
In March 2014 The United Nations released its first Report about sand mining. “Sand Wars” film documentary by Denis Delestrac – first broadcasted on the european Arte Channel, May 28th, 2013, where it became the highest rated documentary for 2013 – expressly inspired the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to publish this 2014-Global Environmental Alert.

Sand Wars, An Investigation Documentary, By Multi Award-Winning Filmmaker Denis Delestrac (©-2013)
Is sand an infinite resource? Can the existing supply satisfy a gigantic demand fueled by construction booms? What are the consequences of intensive beach sand mining for the environment and the neighboring populations…? This investigative documentary takes us around the globe to unveil a new gold rush and a disturbing fact: the “Sand Wars” have begun…


PETITION: Take Action To End Global Beach Sand Mining, Coastal Care

Illegal beach and dune sand mining operations, near Tangier, Morocco. Photograph: © SAF — Coastal Care

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